Still higher than the preCovid-19 record, but initial claims fell to "only" 779,000:The number of workers seeking unemployment benefits fell for the third straight week, a sign that layoffs have started to ease following an increase in early January.
Initial weekly unemployment claims declined to 779,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, following a revised 812,000 claims the prior week.
The recent easing in weekly jobless claims—a proxy for layoffs—pointed to a stabilization in the number of workers applying for benefits, though the total remained at a higher weekly level than before a winter surge in coronavirus cases.
Claims also remained well above the pre-pandemic peak of 695,000 and are still higher than in any previous recession for records tracing back to 1967.
The latest jobless claims figures came a day before the government releases a more detailed look at U.S. employment in January. Economists forecast that employers added 50,000 jobs last month, following a 140,000 decline in December that marked the first decrease in payrolls in seven months. The unemployment rate is forecast to hold steady at 6.7%.
A separate report showed the pandemic’s effect on worker productivity. U.S. labor productivity fell at a 4.8% annual pace in the final months of 2020, the biggest quarterly decline since 1981, the Labor Department said. In the fourth quarter of the year, worker hours increased at a 10.7% pace and output rose at a 5.3% pace, pushing overall productivity lower.
This is why the Democrats need to move quickly to get the stimulus package passed.
The economy is, at best, just treading water.